Solutions for Self-Reliance

Book Review: The Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook

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Week by Week Vegetable Gardener's Handbook ReviewThe Week-by-Week Gardener’s Handbook is a handy guide to gardening on a weekly basis. It provides a rundown of tasks to prepare, maintain, and harvest crops moving backward and forward from your area’s last frost date. It’s chock full of home gardening advice touching on everything from starting seeds to pest and disease control.

It contains so much useful information for the home gardener that it is incredibly valuable despite its one glaring flaw. The book presents itself as if it can be applied to any geographical locale, but when you work out the dates for places like southern California, it just doesn’t pan out.

This book is primarily useful in areas with similar seasons to the authors: the northern states with last frost dates near the end of April.

It is written by father-daughter team Ron and Jennifer Kujawski who together maintain a 6,000 square foot garden in Massachusetts. They approach the book with a conversational style that is both easy to read and understand. They intended the book for use as a gardening journal. It’s spiral bound and paperback, making it easy to use outdoors. There are places to make notes, hand drawn illustrations, and easy to follow tips and tricks to aid with all aspects of home gardening.

This book was incredibly helpful and a welcome addition to my gardening bookshelf. It covers a multitude of topics within the gardening genre. It gives a basic introduction to almost any task or issue you may have in the garden and does so with accuracy that only can come from years of experience.

I especially enjoyed the “He says, She says” inserts. They give the reader a look into the lives of the author and their feeling and recommendations about specific things such as heirloom tomatoes, horseradish, and their favorite ways to sprout beans.

The only complaint I would have for this book besides the issues with last frost dates and geographical location, is that it didn’t go into enough detail on how to manage pests and disease. It does cover a few areas of these topics, but not in great detail.

That said, the authors admit in the introduction to the book that this not meant to be an in depth look at gardening, just an introduction to the topic to get you through a successful first year.

The issue with the problem following their guide for last frost dates if you do not fall into the proper geographic location is a larger concern. The book doesn’t address this issue at all and it could potentially derail your gardening efforts if the book is followed too closely. Use it as a loose guide than a strict set of instructions for best results.

Despite the book’s issues, it is well worth the read. There are dozens of hidden gems of information in the book ranging from when and where to start seeds to how to properly harvest and preserve crops. It’s a steal for $14.95 ($11.34 on Amazon) and definitely deserves a place on any home gardener’s bookshelf.

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